Hugh Wilson (2012) / Gil Hanse (2018)
Merion East has long considered the best course on the tightest acreage in America, and when it hosted the U.S. Open in 2013, its first since 1971, the present generation of big hitters couldn’t conquer this clever little course. They couldn’t consistently hit its twisting fairways, which are edged by creeks, hodge-podge rough and OB stakes and couldn’t consistently hold its canted greens, edged by bunkers that stare back. Justin Rose won with a 72-hole total of one-over-par, two ahead of Jason Day and Phil Mickelson. With Gil Hanse's extensive two-year renovation making even more improvements at Merion's East Course, it’s a certainty that it won’t take another 32 years for the U.S. Open to return to Merion.
100 Greatest History: Ranked since 1966. Highest ranking: No. 5, 1989-90 1995-96, 2015-16, Previous ranking: No. 6
“Without stunning backdrops, Merion (East) has the bones that any golf course could ask for. Exudes sporty and everything is “pure golf.” A design that is as good a test as any, while lacking the length of other courses, with its complex greens.”
“Simply a remarkable connection between the golf course and the clubhouse -- with the first tee being a couple feet away from members’ dining table -- it doesn’t get more charming than this. The feel of golf and atmosphere at Merion upholds the traditional values of the game of golf as good as any course I've seen. The old feel and wicker-basket flagsticks are truly timeless.”
“The first two shots are by far the two most intimidating opening shots in golf. Outstanding in most ways, it was a true pleasure to experience and felt like a walk thru golf architecture and history. The final three holes are an amazing way to end the trip around.”
“Every shot matters at Merion. The yardage on the scorecard is simply a distraction, and not an indication of the test on every shot. A miss, on any shot, results in significant penalty.”
“Simply the best course for variety with the flow of short and long holes, doglegs and straight holes, uphill and downhill. Just a spectacular inland course.”